What’s up with the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) specification?

Yesterday I mentioned the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) specification, which has been under development for the last couple of years and has just been submitted to OASIS. So what’s this all about?

CMIS provides a common Web Services and Web 2.0 interface into different Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems, with the aim of providing better interoperability and aid the creation of composite applications. I’m a fan of the ATOM Publishing Protocol and I’m pleased that the CMIS REST specification builds on the ATOM model. This diagram will give you the basic idea of what this is all about:

The vendors who are making noise around the standard included Alfresco, EMC, IBM, Microsoft, OpenText, Oracle and SAP – in itself an interesting reflection of the diversity in the ECM space these days!

There isn’t a lot of really detailed analysis of the CMIS announcement yet, but in his typical style EMC’s Chuck Hollis gives us four reasons why we shouldn’t dismiss the importance of this standard:

  1. It Solves A Real And Growing Problem;
  2. Right Vendors Are Backing It
  3. The Developers Will Want It
  4. Sooner Or Later, This Problem Is Going To Have To Get Solved

Over on the Oracle blogs, Billy Cripe comments, with cautious optimism says:

"What I don’t buy (just yet) is that this proposed standard is all that was missing to allow customers to keep their content just where it is and usher in a new and glorious era of enterprise mashups. The standard provides the common baseline of access/retrieval/interaction with unstructured content and its metadata across the participating ECM systems. You can bet the vendors will start here and differentiate on top.

But just the fact that we’re all starting here is a very good step in the right direction. Keep in mind that, right now, this is a .5 draft specification so we will see maturation as time goes on and folks sign on."

(BTW See his original post for links to more commentary from around the Web)

Obviously there are still are a lot of details to digest and we need to see all the different vendors actually implement the standard such that it meets the goals of interoperability, but I think the inclusion of a Web 2.0-oriented approach in the specification gives CMIS a good chance of broader adoption. Overall it sounds like if you’re in the market for ECM, you better start thinking about adding CMIS to your wants list!